NBA Playoff Picks - Monday, May 24
The two three-six matchups take center stage on Monday night, with neither of the higher seeds feeling particularly good about their situation. Can either of them rebound? Let’s take a look.
Yes, the Bucks won the game on Saturday afternoon to spring to a 1-0 lead in a rematch of the Orlando bubble series that sent Milwaukee packing.
And maybe with how pronounced the Bucks’ recent playoff failures have been, just getting the win is enough.
Or maybe they should look at the fact that they needed overtime to escape with a two-point victory against a team whose two best players combined to shoot 8-for-37 (not to mention a 2-for-10 showing from reserve guard Tyler Herro) and be a little worried.
It’s almost inexplicable that a game against a team that shot 36 percent overall was this close, but here we are. Milwaukee can point to their own shooting woes from behind the 3-point line (5-for-31, with just two makes from anyone not named Khris Middleton), but they can’t necessarily count on an improvement from their best player at the free throw line after Giannis went just 6-for-13 from the charity stripe.
What can’t be questioned is that the Heat once again have a plan for how to stop Antetokounmpo & Co: give the two-time MVP anything he wants outside of the paint (which is where all his non-free throw points came from in Game 1) and work like hell to get back out and defend the arc if they need to bring the help. With so many high-level individual defenders, they made it clear that they’re comfortable with one-on-one matchups with the Bucks’ other high level players, and while Middleton and Jrue Holiday had strong games, no one else on Milwaukee’s roster outside of Brook Lopez had much of an impact.
The question now is whether Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo will continue to struggle as much as they did on Saturday, and the smart money says no. This feels like it’s going the distance, which means the Heat will steal one on the road at some point. Game 2 is as good a time as any.
The Pick: Heat +4.5 @ -107
It’s somewhat surprising that a four-point Blazer lead with under six minutes to go turned into a 14-point Portland if only because almost all of Denver’s misses down the stretch came on shots taken by the two guys you’d want to have the ball: Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr.
Overall, both players had fine games, combining for 59 of Denver’s 109 points, but the pair needed 48 shots to get there. MPJ in particular was brutal from deep, shooting just 1-for-10 form long range. Perhaps even more jarring is the fact that the NBA’s 7th leading dime dropper and the fulcrum of the Nuggets offense finished the game with just one assist.
Jokic will obviously top that number in Game 2. The Nuggets, who were the 8th most accurate 3-point shooting team over the course of the season, shot jut 30 percent from deep in this game, which contributed greatly to Jokic’s low assist total. Portland also ranked 24th in the league in opponents’ accuracy from long range, so even without Jamal Murray and Will Barton, this is a number that figures to rebound.
Throw in the fact that there’s still a chance we see Barton soon, and that the Blazers are highly unlikely to repeat the 19-for-40 performance on 3-pointers that they had in Game 1, and it’s fair to assume that the Nuggets are not going to go down 0-2 at home.
The spread is small enough that a win should be enough, and the Nuggets haven’t dropped two straight at home in three months. Take full advantage.
The Pick: Nuggets -1.5 @ -108
NBA Playoff Picks & Predictions
Heat +4.5 @ -107 (Click to bet)
Nuggets -1.5 @ -108 (Click to bet)
Expert NBA Playoff Picks
The NBA Playoffs are in full swing, and we’ve got the very best expert NBA playoff picks you’ll find anywhere, coming to you from our stable of NBA handicappers. Jonathan Macri, Sean Highkin and Adam Taylor lead the way, bringing you a wide variety of plays and expert predictions to help you turn the 2021 NBA Playoffs into profit.
And, if you’d rather listen to your picks that read them, you’re in luck. Jonathan Macri and Adam Taylor team up every week to give the most in-depth NBA breakdown you’ll find anywhere. Make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel to get notified when their content drops.